Curbside eating : mobilizing food trucks to activate public space
Author(s)Sheppard, Alison Marguerite
Mobilizing food trucks to activate public space
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
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In the past 5 years, cities across the United States have seen the rise of a new form of street vending: the modern food truck. Nearly overnight, food trucks have become an expected and anticipated occurrence in many metropolitan areas throughout the country. The trucks are a new and unique typology in the street food landscape of the US. Since 2008, they have entered cities peddling gourmet food items, catering to a young, hip clientele, and skillfully using mobile technologies as a business strategy. Despite predictions that the trend was simply a passing fad, the phenomenon has already established deep roots in many cities. As a result, trucks are having major economic, social, and spatial impacts in the cities that they inhabit. This thesis explores the numerous spatial benefits of these trucks; in particular, it analyzes the ability of the trucks to activate underused public spaces. Food trucks can act as a magnet in otherwise ubiquitous landscapes by bringing people to sidewalks, alleyways, and parking lots that otherwise go unused. This ability to create hubs of activity and interaction can be capitalized on by planners, policy-makers, and designers seeking on-the-ground, low-investment mechanisms to improve the urban environment. This thesis explores these spatial benefits through the lens of Los Angeles, widely acknowledged as the birthplace and epicenter of the food truck trend. Throughout this paper, successful examples of spaces enhanced by food trucks are used to understand what elements must be present in order for food trucks to capitalize on their unique opportunity to improve public spaces. Based on these patterns, a process is proposed through which food truck location strategies can be generated. The resulting strategies are meant to select locations in which food trucks are not only economically and physically viable, but are also optimal in terms of their potential for activation. The process can be adapted to a range of situations, accounting for the flexibility and context-specificity demanded by the nature of the food truck trend.
Thesis (M.C.P. and S.B.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2013.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 132-137).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.